Our Old Story

If everything wrong were righted today
my bet is that the thrill would last for a spell
but then somebody somewhere’d find something
less than acceptable about our almost-heaven.
Somebody somewhere’d swear a disparity,
this casting a shadow on their bright countenance,
this causing their hand to rise up and slay their
brother or sister or neighbor’s boyfriend’s cousin,
this squeezing a blood cry from a bucolic cornfield,
this starting a chapter in a new old testament as
some old timer somewhere’d say Here we go again.
 
 
 
 
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Old Jack

The beagle is outside again trying to eat
the bees who cannot quit our Russian sage.
No, this is not the beagle’s first rodeo and
 
yes, historically this has not gone well.
He always ends up bucked off with stingers
in his jowls and his dog-nity quite bruised.
 
I’ve had the won’t-you-ever-learn-pal?
talk with him many times now, and I do
suppose I will once more, for like the bees
 
that refuse to quit I too cannot give up on
Old Jack for when not face-first in the
purple sage he sticks closer than a brother.
 
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Consider These Things

Maybe St. Luke had thorns in his ears and
what the Lord Jesus himself really said was
It is more blessed to live than to deceive.
This, in my opinion, would truck with what
the spirit of the old book is really all about.
Stop the ruse. Drop the fig leaf. Quit trying
to shoehorn your life into someone else’s.
The blood that snaked down the foot of Christ’s
cross was a breakthrough pesticide designed
to seep beneath the surface of time and
choke fear at its roots. So please, consider these
things, and let not your heart be doubled.
 
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The Next Day

There are times when as a writer
you must practice forbearance.
Some evenings the pall of death
 
is so heavy halfway around the world
that you search for paper and pen
to try and make your sense of it.
 
Better to go mow the emerald grass
in diagonal rows and pull purple thistles
from the fence and startle the grey rabbit
 
beneath the shade tree and speak to your
very much alive neighbors as they walk by
while the summer wind chills the sweat inching
 
down your back and for reasons unknown
you suddenly recall the sinful smell of your
grandfather’s tobacco mingled with the
 
memory of the tears in your wife’s eyes
as the doctor placed your firstborn son in the
crook of her arm and life demanded on.
 
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Actually, scratch that.

The timeline’s different for each of us
but at some point you have to stop fighting
your parents or religion or 1950s America or
your no-good-son-of-a-bitch-ex-spouse
or quite possibly even yourself. Yes, yourself.
Signify this truce by beating your sword
into a plowshare. Actually, scratch that.
I propose beating it into windchimes.
That way you’ll be gently recalled to the
forgiveness when subsequent winds blow.
Those notes will be a charmer’s tune 
easing the air around you, an alarming
remembrance that by no means did you give up,
but that by choice you gave in to an older song.
 
 
 
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Dear Billy Collins

Dear Billy Collins,
I have a very good friend
who says you remind him of me.
While I take that as a compliment
almost every picture of you I see
has you chewing on the end of your glasses
with sorta flirty eyes and I would never do that,
the chewing on my glasses part.
You have said you hope your poems
begin in Kansas and end in Oz
and I can see myself hoping that
although I wouldn’t say it out loud.
Your verses are very approachable
filled with things like low hanging clouds
and clinking whiskey glasses.
I strive for accessibility too but
so far I’ve held off on the whiskey.
I have to tell you, Billy, that there are times
I’m reading your work and I get sleepy,
I believe your critics have used the word pedantic.
Now I’m of the silent opinion that most critics
can kiss my ass and then some, but
there are times when I’m reading your work
that I wish you’d say something like that,
just throw your whiskey glass up into the
low hanging clouds and watch it tumble down
and shatter on the yellow brick road
and frighten all the munchkins almost to death.
But I have the sense you wouldn’t do that
and I understand that restraint, I really do.
Maybe that’s what my good friend means
when he says I remind him of you,
that something in our eyes that is safe, like home.
 
 
 
 
 
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Vespers

When I was a child I was afraid of being
lost in this world that is passing away.
So I prayed the sinner’s prayer and then
I was found, an experience I do not hold
lightly as I believe it suckled the hope
that is now within me as a man.
But when I became that man the hope said
Don’t be afraid. So I unprayed the sinner’s
prayer, trusting the truest salvation lies in
losing oneself to this world that is too much,
filled with the laughter of summer children
backlit by our gorgeous dying sun.
 
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